Heather Dyer - Author
Heather's books feature ordinary children to whom extraordinary things happen. In Tina and the Penguin, Tina smuggles a penguin out of the zoo and finds that having a penguin in your bedroom isn't as much fun as she thought it would be. In The Fish in Room 11 Toby finds a mermaid with stringy hair living beneath the pier. And in The Boy in the Biscuit Tin, three children find a magic set which does real magic. Friendship and freedom are the themes explored.
Heather's books have received an USBBY Oustanding International Book award, the Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice 2003 award, and been broadcast on the Canadian YTV children's television program The Bittles. Heather currently lives in the United Kingdom and teaches Writing for Children at Bristol University. The best review she ever received was from a nine-year-old boy who said to his teacher, “These characters feel like our friends.”
When did you start writing?
When I was about seven or eight. I made up stories, drew pictures and put them in little books. I never usually finished them. I stopped writing stories when I got to be a teenager and wrote journals and letters instead, but started writing stories again when I was about 27.
What is your favorite book?
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, and my favorite adult book is Runaway by Lucy Irvine.
Where do you live now?
Vancouver, British Columbia.
Who is in your family?
My family all live in Wales. There's my mum and dad, brother, Neil, and sister, Gayle.
Do you have any pets?
No, I'd love a dog but can't have one as I'm at work all day.
What is your favorite food?
Seafood hot pot.
What is your favorite hobby?
Reading and hiking.
What was your training or schooling?
I have a degree in biology, which I've never used.
How did you get involved with children's books?
I read a lot when I was small and still vividly remember the books I read. I still re-read the C.S. Lewis books and E. Nesbitt a lot and have always wanted to write something like them.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
Write whatever you feel like writing, just keep on writing. Practice makes perfect.
What is your favorite movie?
The Bridges of Madison Country.
What is the thing you like the most about creating kids books?
Getting lost in the story and having the characters do unexpected things that seem to fit the story well.
Where do you work?
At my computer at home. I jot down notes in my notebook wherever I am.
How do you research or create your stories?
I start writing one scene and let it lead me to another and keep on writing until the story takes shape. This means lots of revisions and discarded ideas along the way.
Where do you get your ideas?
They start from fantasies or ideas I had when small or are triggered by places I love, and they expand into proper stories as I start writing.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Having tea and boiled eggs on Sundays in front of the fire with my family.
What is your favorite animal?
Dogs. They're so exuberant and honest.
When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I've had over 20 different jobs, including oyster picker, cherry picker, cleaner in a psychiatric ward, sweet shop worker and writing software manuals.
What is your next project?
A book about mermaids.
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
The characters are all patched together from people I've met, and the places are all based on places I've been.